Friday, May 31, 2013

Archer Braid Trail Becomes a Reality in Archer (June 15)

Until paving began in earnest I felt like the rough path to Archer was for me and a few life-style riders. I met numerous people who formerly used Archer Road to get from Archer to G'ville where they worked, shopped or . . . well . . . did something. Not people riding carbon fiber or multi-speed road bikes, but people of a wide range of ages on big box bikes, cobbled together cruisers and anything else with wide enough tires to handle the pre-paving rough surface. Now those riders will be joined by riding groups and personal best-setters and the whole area is better because of it.

Here, where the terrain is, at its worst, gently rolling and the weather is moderate to hot most of the year, many people could easily ride instead of drive. The essential requirements are access, equipment and desire. Archer Braid Trail is evidence of the kind of access that makes getting around by bike possible. Now, downtown Archer is not much further away from my front door than downtown G'ville and the trip is markedly safer. Equipment? Less than $200 will buy a satisfactory entry level multi-gear bike at one of the big box stores to begin the process of developing the desire, because desire is the greatest obstacle.

In a culture where we buy fast food and diet sodas, pay large sums to use exercise facilities and fret over which diet plan to try next, our sense of perspective is a bit skewed. I like the idea of "Eat less. Do more." Riding is very definitely something that fits in the category of "do more" and anyone within a few miles of the new Archer Braid Trail ought to look into riding as a part of developing the desire to "do more." Might turn out that you'll like riding enough to commute by bike a day or two a week. Maybe you'll save some money, too, and then you can invest in a bike from your FNBS that'll truly suit your needs and desire.

So, come June 15 at 10 AM, the newly paved, marked and signed Archer Braid Trail segment will be officially opened in Archer. And Archer got a nice thing in their backyard! About a mile and a half of rolling, shaded, woodland walking or riding that is as pleasant as a trail can be. Riders get a safe, smooth passage from 91st to the railroad crossing in Archer.

Apparently it'll be a moderately big To Do in Archer with ribbon cutting, celebrating, speech making and such. Riders should show up in force as a show of support for further bike trail development such as extending the trail to Bronson and beyond. Damn! Wouldn't it be nice to have a trail all the way to Cedar Key?

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Everyday Is A Fine Day To Ride

Love to ride. My common response when people observe on a sunny day that it's "a nice day for a ride" is to say that everyday is a nice day to ride. Few things, maybe nothing else, offer the same sense of freedom.

Yesterday, after getting my wheels trued at Bikes and More I rode to Lacrosse to check on the distance to the farm of acquaintances. It was a fine day; sunny, puffy cumulus clouds and a high pressure breeze from the southeast. As I rode north on State Route 231 I was reminded of the roads of South Carolina where I had to share the road with drivers because there was no shoulder and much like in SC I kept close to the road's edge and drivers gave me plenty of room. In marked contrast, both State Roads 235 and 121 offered wide shoulders for the return trip. On the negative side, once I turned off of 235 onto 121, the former pleasant breeze was in my face. <sigh> I was reminded by this hot ride of one of the essential elements of riding in Florida once the heat arrives. It is hard to hydrate too much.

Today, I was unable to resist a short trip along the fully paved Archer Braid Trail. Never felt intimidated by riding the shoulder of Archer Road (State Route 24), but the constant traffic conflicted with the usual sense of freedom. Turning south onto SW 122nd or finally getting to the convenience store in Archer was always a relief. Now, though, it's a different experience where you can be an observer of drivers not a participant in their world.

Today there were more walkers than riders, especially in the wooded section approaching Archer, and it was fine day for riding or walking.
Trail Head; Archer Braid Trail
The Trail is now complete except for minor matters at the Trail Head in Archer.

Archer Braid Trail markings at intersectionsYield signs and "HWAY XING" markings have appeared at all significant intersections suggesting that the county has taken control of the path.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Beer, Herbs and Cheese

Went to Publix this morning to get beer and cash-back so I could buy things at Haile Village Farmers' Market. After several week's absence an acquantance of mine was back showing his handmade wares. After bringing each other up to date we admired each other's trailers. He carries his table and wares to Haile and to the Wednesday evening Downtown Market with a Burley Travoy. He is a native of Mexico so I pointed out to him that I was carrying a 12 pack of Mexican beer. He approved of my cargo.

When I drove I used to visit the Farmers' Market on 441. Now, maybe I am lazy, because I do not ride the 12+ miles opting, instead, to use the much closer Haile Village event. Some of the vendors do both places, so I convince myself that I am not missing anything. In fact, I might have missed the couple Travoy; Saturday Morning Shoppingfrom whom I have been purchasing herbs and other growing things to plant in my small garden. I know they are good people because he likes bikes, she likes to grow things and they both like "The 13th Warrior." What more could you expect of strangers? More importantly, they have nice herbs and a great manner about them.

One of the vendors who does both Markets is the couple making "Raw Milk Farmstead Cheese." Growing up in an area with a large Pennsylvanina Dutch (Amish and Mennonite) population meant being exposed to what would now be called "artisan cheese." Back in the 60s and 70 that term was not used. We just called it cheese. What this couple is making near Hawthorne is damn nice.

It was a fruitful (or beer-ful, herb-ful and cheese-ful) Saturday morning made pleasantly possible by my Schwinn and Burley Travoy. I understand that most people cannot relate to living without driving and if I lived anywhere else life might be different for me. But I don't and it isn't. Geography and climate make it possible. Good equipment makes it easier.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Some Miscellaneous Stuff

Replaced the cassette on the Safari yesterday. It hadn't reached the point where it was a necessity, but would have needed it with the next chain replacement. Before I set off last August I discussed with the people at FNBS (Bikes and More) the possible need for a lower bottom gear than was provided by the original Shimano Alivio 11-32 since I intended to ride hills far steeper than anything here in north central Florida. Consensus was that the 11-32 would be adequate. It was, but, the lingering gearhead mentality urged me to take the plunge. I chose to invest in a Deore upgrade and a lower gear justifying it as a worthwhile investment.

Monday was one of those days where I felt a compulsion to ride. I set-off on one of my usual circuits and made the 50 miles in four mostly leisurely hours. As I approached Micanopy I felt the same urges so typical of longish rides; I wanted some Gatorade! Arrived at Pearl and discovered I'd left my wallet at home. There was no lack of water aboard the bike, so hydration was not an issue and I had several Larabars to take care of carb needs, but sometimes a cold drink feels so damn good!

With the near completion of the Archer to 91st Street section of the Archer Braid Trail I saw many more riders on Monday. (Guess that means it's no longer my personal/private ride.) No longer do we have to contend with heavy driver volume on any GCC rides going to or through Archer. Nice!

Being able to start at the Tower Road Publix and access the Trail after a short transit passing Barnie's then using the already existing trail on the south side of Archer Road makes the trip to Archer safe and pleasant.

May people are uncomfortable with using the Bike Lane west of I-75 on Archer Road, but I ride it often and have never had a serious incident. Of greater concern is the stretch from 34th to I-75 where I use the sidewalk instead of riding in traffic. Drivers wanting to turn onto Archer Road are mostly unaware of walkers and riders whether you use the north or south side of Archer.

Create Maps or search from 80 million at MapMyRide

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Joining When You're Not a Joiner

Never been much of a "joiner." Joined the Army in 1965 rather than be Drafted. Not sure whether being Drafted would have been better. Survived and I guess that's the among the better things for which you could hope. Decided, recently, to join the National Bike Challenge as part of the feeling that I need to advocate bicycle riding. Don't like admitting that I have gotten into the competition part of it.

I've always been competitive, but mostly against myself. When I lived in Atlanta and ran alot back in the late 70s and early 80, when running was very much a part of my life experience, I knew I could not keep up with whippet slender real runners. I was a plodder, a sub 10 minute miler most of the time, but I could run for hours. I ran because it felt good. Thirty years later my knees reject the idea running while readily accepting the limited stress associated with sliding onto a B-17.

That competitive sense has been stirred by joining the National Bike Challenge. I joined to add my mileage to the team (Go Team!), the Gainesville Bicycle Society (Gainesville Cycling Club to use its proper name) to which membership gives me a 15% discount on parts and accessories at my FNBS. Now, I am drawn to the local and national rankings and like seeing that of the 22K plus people registered, I rank in the top 1500 or so. I tend to ignore the hundreds whose names appear but have logged no mileage.

It's a good deal for someone like me since every time I slide onto my Brooks or FrankenBrooks B-17 I garner 20 points plus 1 point per mile ridden. A single trip to Publix totals 20 + 3 and I make that trip three and four times a week. This is about the promotion of bicycles as a way to make the Earth a healthier place or, as the website suggests, "the power of the bicycle to build healthy people, healthy communities, and a healthy planet" (National Bike Challenge), so those of us who live the bicycle lifestyle might represent the "ground roots" of the Challenge.

Today I did a 20 something mile circuit that included the Archer Braid Tral and found that all but about one-quarter mile remains to be paved of the six or so miles. The support elements are in place at the Archer Trail Head; parking space, kiosk, sidewalk, and trail. All that remains is to pave over the tarred sand. About a dozen other riders were abroad on the Trail today and I expect it'll become a favorite of many G'ville riders.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Keeping Bicycle Riders Safe

Rode to the other side of town yestereve. Pleasant weather. Gentle breeze. Acceptable temperatures. Unacceptable number of drivers who ignored pedestrian and bicycle traffic. It's pretty easy to believe you are Master or Mistress of your own Personal Universe when behind the wheel of an automobile. That's why it's so important as a rider to be aware of the limitations inherent in being a driver. Many of us ignore that element.

Yestereve, though, was a special event, apparently. An uncommonly large number of bicyclists were in the figurative grips of Gainesville's Finest. I was close enough to overhear one rider being lectured "you have the same rights and rules" as Gainesville's Fines began opening a pad, presumably to write a ticket or warning. In total, I saw four riders and eight Finest, distributed two to one, in a distance of less than 10 miles. It takes two cars to pull-over one rider?

I take no issue with making riders follow the rules, even where the rules are stupid, unnecessary or unreasonable. Happens to drivers all the time and we are no better than they are even if it makes no sense to make us stop forever at a light that will never change because we do not have the mass to cycle the light. Or to come to a full stop at a sign when it is clear that no other vehicles will pass through the intersection in the next ten to fifteen minutes. I favor the Idaho Stop (Idaho Statues 49-720). I also understand the attitude of drivers who think it should apply to them, too, but just as leash laws apply to dogs and not parkeets, I, as a rider of a 30 pound bicycle, pose no physical threat to an automobile in the same degree as a
5,549 pound Ford Expediton poses to me (and anything else). The idaho Stop simply makes good sense, most of the time.

Riders create their own problems when they assume the right-of-way at intersections. I make it a point to yield to drivers. I survived Vietnam. Why should I tempt fate and end it all over who-has-the-right-of-way-at-this-four-way-stop-sign? Generally, I am skilled enough to reach a motionless stop without pulling my feet from my toe straps when I am not the first of two or more vehicles at a four way stop. This is usually enough to encourage aware drivers to take their appropriate turn. If it isn't, I put my foot down and wait. Yeah, it is often a real waste of time, but it's not like thirty-two extra seconds will ruin my personal best time. I mean, come on! I average 12 to 13 miles an hour and I don't pedal standing up.

I am diligent about making my presence on a bike as unencumbering for drivers as possible. If I could wear a sign expressing that idea and the desire for reciprocation, I'd be much happier. Well, not with the sign, but with the reciprocation. I give as much room as I can do safely on rural roads, but don't encourage your undisplined Pit Bull to bark at me as you speed by. I mused recently about having a local driver honk his horn angrily on a rural road outside Bronson (well, most roads outside Bronson are rural, aren't they?). I crossed hundreds of miles of Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina with no angry horn honking. So, what's up with this, especially since there was NO ON-COMING TRAFFIC and a clear view ahead?

Many of us need to be cited for our stupidity and ineptitude and that behavior simply makes those of us who take riding more seriously look bad. Be careful.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

One Tenth to Go

Rode to Archer this afternoon and found that the Trail is now complete to within about 1/10 mile of it's actual terminus. Work continues there and my guess is that upon completion of that project the last segment will become asphalt.

Until then everyone can ride the Trail and access the Archer end from the parking lot behind Sav-a-Lot. There is a fifty yard or so expanse of grass to traverse before getting on or off the Trail. The rest of the distance between Archer and G'ville is smooth and pleasant.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Everyday It's Getting Closer

OK, so it's not quite done and all the false alarms have been a pain, but paving has moved into the woods east of Archer and it is now possible to ride on smooth asphalt  between SW 154th Street, the access road to Jordan Glen School, and SW 91st. The short distance from the Trail to Archer Road using SW 154th Street is a minor inconvenience for anyone riding between G'ville and Archer and it will disappear soon.
Evidence that the project is nearing completion is the installation of tactile thermoplastic warning strips at all intersections.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Well, Damn!

Paving Halt!

I'm a little late saying this, but I was disappointed on Friday when I rode west hoping to see the final stages of paving the Archer Trail through the woods into Archer.

Two or so miles before reaching Archer, but after Parker Road paving had come to a halt. I continued on to Archer and found construction continuing around the water system project at the trail head. Maybe completion of this project is the reason for the delay.

Nonetheless, except for skinny tire road bikes all of the Trail is navigable. It is rough through the woods to Archer, but on my 1.5 inch wide Marathons it's no worse than a lot of the rural roads I commonly ride.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

"Might get to Parker Road today."

Thus spoke one of the men working on paving the Archer Braid Trail

I was on the last leg of a forty mile ride when . . . well . . .  the title says it and the pictures below show it.

Except for the Trailhead in Archer, paving should be completed in time to ride unfettered from 91st to Archer on Saturday!

Monday, May 6, 2013

The Archer Braid Trail . . . Almost Here

As the Archer Braid Trail nears completion its personality develops. Approaching Archer will be a rider's delight as the trail rolls smoothly through the shaded woods. 


Grassy berms have been installed and, weather permitting paving of the entire length could be complete by Friday. Access at the Archer Trailhead, where eventually there will be a parking area, lags behind the rest of the path because of installation or new water lines for the city.

Seeding beyond the berm and covering with straw will be completed just before paving commences.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Keeping Green and Clean

I didn't liked getting haircuts as a kid. Didn't like that older people insisted on notcing that I'd gotten "my ears lowered." (What's that about?!) I tolerated it and them because there was no choice. Years later, whether I had short or very long hair, one element of those '50s haircuts remained; Bay Rum. Originally distilled from Rum and bay leaves in the Caribbean, it was (and is) a fine aroma and one I love. I was pleased whenever I discovered a source other than small town barbershops. Now, in the '10s I can indulge in that positive part of the otherwise unpleasant childhood experience.

When I met Monica at a local farmers' market and asked about Bay Rum soap, something I occasionally found in such places, she said she'd investigate and maybe could add it to her products. A few months later she told in an email message that it was now available. Since then it has been my soap of choice. I had a too long hiatus from it during the months of monetary readjustment, but a few days ago stopped by Monica Soapmaker at Kate's Fish Camp and resupplied with several bars of her excellent product.

It was good to see water in the creek again which makes the Fish Camp name more applicable than it has been for several years. It's hard to have a fish camp where the only way for fish to move to and from Newnan's Lake is by walking. Monica's soap is available in numerous locations locally and their line of products has expanded. I prefer to stop by and chat when I am riding the Hawthorne Trail. All of Monica's products are also available from the website:

Monica's Cococastile Soap

Made with olive and coconut oils and lots of real-folk care and concern, it's a damn good product made by people well-worth supporting in their efforts.